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  • Writer's pictureDenise Tolan

The Daily Dick: Day 42. Musings From a Sixth Reading of the Great Book

Chapter 38: Dusk

By the Mainmast; Starbuck leaning against it.

My soul is more than matched; she’s overmanned; and by a madman! Insufferable sting, that sanity should ground arms on such a field! But he drilled deep down, and blasted all my reason out of me! I think I see his impious end; but feel that I must help him to it. Will I, nill I, the ineffable thing has tied me to him; tows me with a cable I have no knife to cut. Horrible old man! Who’s over him, he cries;—aye, he would be a democrat to all above; look, how he lords it over all below! Oh! I plainly see my miserable office,—to obey, rebelling; and worse yet, to hate with touch of pity!”




Here we have another soliloquy. This time from Starbuck. Ishmael is still missing as we, the readers, are presumably listening in.

Starbuck is all drama, but I hear his pain. He is overmatched -freely admits his failing. Starbuck tells us how Ahab drilled deep down into his soul. Starbuck sees the end game. He tells us that. Starbuck also feels compelled by duty to help Ahab reach his goal.

There is a line where Starbuck says he must ‘obey, rebelling; and worse yet to hate with a touch of pity” that always gets to me. So Starbuck will obey, but rebel in his heart? Is that how rebellion looks? But what is worse to Starbuck is that he can’t hate Ahab? Or that he does hate him, but pities him as well? It is this seed that Starbuck himself has planted that will cause the demise of everyone.

And, like a weird Judas, it seems Starbuck sees this as his “miserable office.” There will be another chance to undo this, Starbuck. This is a moment to contemplate, but you will have another moment to act. I think we can see what he will do. Starbuck. You big dummy.

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